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Molly Grows Up

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Molly Grows Up

Published 1953

Menstruation education film for young teenage girls, redolent with dated detail.

Run time 14:20
Producer Photo & Sound Productions for Medical Arts Productions
Sponsor Personal Products Corporation
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W



--Molly enthusiastically describes a wedding; neighbors comment on how she is growing up.
--She tries on sister's hat and lipstick
--Mother calmly asks Molly how she feels when she has started her first period
--the "curse"
--Father shows his surprise and his pride
--Plumbing diagrams
--Molly adoringly watches her sister in stunning formal dress leave for a dance, and narrator concludes she is looking forward to being grown up and exciting times
Molly has her first period and receives sympathetic advice and instruction from her mother and school nurse.
Begins with Molly gushing about a wedding and the beautiful bride to two older woman neighbors. "My goodness, Molly is certainly growing up," they say.
School nurse intercepts Molly and friend as they head into school, wants to check on Molly's sore throat. Quick intervention, California-style.
Nurse returns gloves that Molly's mother left over at her house last night; nurse is almost part of family.
Molly in older sister Jeanie's room going through stuff, wearing hat and trying on lipstick. Jeanie is mad but not really. Goes to drawer, pulls out a Modess pad from visibly named box. Molly: "Jeanie, when do you think I'll start having periods, too?" Molly is worried she is behind her friends. Sister: "So what? Some start earlier, some later. We're all different. From the way you've been acting lately, shouldn't be long now."
Molly comes home from school. Mom is in kitchen.
"Mom, guess what?"
"I don't know, what?"
"Mom, I started my first period."
"Well, whaddaya you know. C'mon, sit down, tell me about it." (spoken with greatest of interest, putting mixing bowl down, etc.)
."...Well, my goodness. How do you feel?" (concern)
"Tonight will be mother and daughter conference night."
[mother shakes head and says "Gol-ly..., smiles]
mother gives private lecture to Molly on normality, etc.
"it's just part of being a woman, I guess..."
"Well, if you sit and stand straight, that'll give the organs inside your body room to function better, and that'll make you feel better."
Mother warns against swimming first 2 or 3 days after start of your period, Molly says sanctimoniously about how she has the curse.
Mom: "You know, I've often wondered why it is that some women still call menstruation the curse."
Mom to Dad (with Molly's permission): "Well, Jim, Molly's growing up. She's having her first menstrual period."
Dad: "What? already? Oh, but Alice, I thought...well, I mean, after all, she's only..."
Dad relents...
Nurse: "she's changing from a child into an adult, and it's a little confusing at times..."
Nurse substitutes for another sick teacher...
"menstruation is just the natural, normal process leading up to being a mother."
nurse explains sanitary napkins...
shows elastic belt
some girls prefer to use tampons
"But you should be more careful than ever about personal cleanliness and daintiness. Change your underwear more often, and be sure to use a deodorant. And pay more attention to your hair and your nails. And plan to wear your prettiest dress. In other words, be your most attractive self."
"Do" and "Do moderately" chart
nurse gives out booklets for kids to read.
narrator: "Soon, Molly will be a young woman like her sister Jeanie, having dates, going to dances in lovely, romantic dresses, and making new and important friends. There are so many wonderful things to look forward to... Growing up, it's an exciting time."

From Ed Screen April 1954:

[the committee appraisal]

"This film provides a calm, forthright, faithful, and sympathetic portrayal of a girl's experiences connected with the growing-up process. Dealing as it does with both the biological and social aspects of menstruation, the film should be useful in explaining to adolescents the menstruation process and allaying their fear. Parents should find the film helpful in suggesting ways of handling their daughter's questions about menstruation and developing desirable attitudes toward the whole process of growing up. Both groups should also find the film effective for stimulating group discussion.
"Parents and teen-agers, the previewing committee felt, would easily identify themselves with the protagonists and situations in the film. The incidental references to the sponsor's products do not seem to detract from the value of the film. The naturalness of the characters, the universal importance of the information and questions, and the clear, crisp explanations should enhance the teaching value of the film."

Danger Lurks Safety


Reviewer: MissMenorrhea - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 26, 2016
Subject: Gosh!...If Only I Wrote The Script

(Watch the film first, before you read this.)

Mollie: Jeanie...When do you think I'll have my first period? Will I collapse in a pool of blood, right in the front of the class like Denise did?
Jeanie: Well, the way you're acting, won't be long now. Better double up those One A Days with iron, you'll need it babe.
Mollie: What's iron?
Jeanie: What's iron? What's A leppo..I don't fuckin' know. I'm here on earth to breed and go through all the crap that goes with it. Now give me that Kotex and get the fuck out of my room!

2 weeks later (right after the big announcement)

Mollie: Mom...can I have one of those cookies you're baking?
Mother: No, Mollie, eating cookies and other sweets on the first day of your period could cause you to bloat. Remember Jeanie not being able to button her jeans?
Mollie: Ohhhh Mom...Jeanie just had some gas from the kapusta you served for dinner that day. A little ol' cookie ain't gonna turn me into a hippopotamus!
Mother: Mollie, sit up straight!
Mollie: Oh, Mom. I'm comfortable.
Mother: Now Mollie, it's important to sit up straight. [Mother attains an authoritative stance and gets a "professorial" look and tone of voice] ... That's so your organs are arranged like they are on an anatomy mannikin. Slouching is bad. You'll wind up with a tipped uterus your Aunt Martha has. That's why she can't have babies.
Mollie: Ohhh, OK.

[phone rings]

Mollie: Mom? Can I go swimming with Miss Jenson after school tomorrow? I promise, no hickey on my chest, and I'll insist on using a separate shower this time. I'll be home by 5:30.
Mother: No, Mollie, you shouldn't swim on the first few days after you come si--ick..., ah, er... I mean, the first few days of your period. You can get cramps. Remember that bit about Jeanies friend Elaine? She collapsed from cramps right in the front of the study hall! That was right after swimming class. Now, sit up straight!
Mollie: Ohhh, mom.
Mother: Never mind, you. Now get upstairs and get in bed. I'll be in there with an assburn, and a hot water bottle for your tummy as soon as I get done hemming this rag-----er, ah...dress.
Mollie: Oh..Mom, by the way, Miss Jenson, in her usual deep, brusque tone, told me to make sure you get me a box of 48 napkins, and, oh!... to be sure they're Modess brand. And she told me to make sure to change them 10 times a day.
Mother: (silent, to herself, shaking her head, eyes toward ceiling) Oh, that crazed dame!

[Narrator] Mollie was kept home from school the next 2 days, and after Mother insisted that those were in fact, cramps, Mollie actually believed it.

Mollie loved those 2 days off of school every month. Kept in bed and waited on hand and foot like a queen. (said Mollie, a year later "I still don't get why they call it "the curse.")
Reviewer: JSBejma - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 22, 2016
Subject: Coming Sick - What Girls Need To Know
I love this movie. This IS the good old days!

Cute film that treats this embarassingly touchy-feely topic in a very tasteful manner. I liked Molly's parents and that older sister Jeannie is a real tart. Frankly, at this point, Mollie's tits are already as big as Jeannie's (look carefully). No wonder Jeannie is so feisty toward little sister.

Coming sick is presented here in a manner appropriate to quell the tendency some girls had towards "overdoing it."

And girls, as far as other thing to note, IS a good idea to wear your prettiest dress (or slacks) during that time of the month...but nursie forgot to tell 'em the important part - DON'T WEAR WHITE SLACKS!

Definitely one of the best films on this site!
Reviewer: ERD. - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 10, 2015
Subject: Well done
This early 1950s film does a good job in covering the subject for young girls.
Reviewer: aquariuspurple - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 26, 2014
Subject: Miss Jensen and Molly's mother???
Good golly, miss Molly! How on earth did Molly's mother leave her gloves at the school nurse's home the night before? Looks like Molly's got more than menstruation to worry about.
Reviewer: JayKay49 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 25, 2012
Subject: Menarche - In Other Lands Its a Village Celebration!
But at least Mollie doesn't get infundibulated or God forbid the clitoridectomy thing.

But her family makes such a big deal about Mollies menarche you'd think Mother was gonna put the cookie dough aside and start defrosting a Swifts Premium turkey and Pa's gonna put up the Christmas lights.

It is important to remember that this film was made in a day and age when young girls actually believed the stories they heard about a girl collapsing in a pool of blood right in the middle of her classroom; or that so and so had such bad cramps that she crawled into a wastebasket in the hallway.

BTW Mollie is obviously Protestant; otherwise mom woulda sent her straight up to bed and gave her a hot water bottle to put on her tummy and kept her home from school the next day.

But what's wrong with having a little fun telling girls to forgo square dancing and not to go swimming during the curse. Makes sense to me. And wearing your prettiest dress is never a bad idea. You never know when that boy of your dreams is gonna appear out of thin air...and you better be prepared, bleeding or not.

Who couldnt just adore this lovely film?
Reviewer: DoctorBotanus - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 6, 2011
Subject: who wrote this?
There seems to be some debate about the validity of the advice given in this film and if it represents the misconceptions of a male doctor and his opinions. Well, the only theory I can arrive at
from watching this film is that it was written by a Martian or other space traveler whom is most unfamiliar with humans.
1) Sit strait and with good posture so that your internal organs will operate at their most efficient. Clearly, only an extraterrestrial would know this.
2) When menstruating it is important to avoid warm water and to bathe with only cold water.
Maybe this is true on Mars.
3) Positively no square dancing.
Clearly Martians hate square dancing.
Reviewer: bizzyditch - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 15, 2010
Subject: Oh brother.
Why do people have to be such tools about stuff like this? I don't mean the actors; I mean the jerks who snicker about girls getting their periods!

Apparently being a jerk means you're too busy cackling to listen to what the movie actually SAYS. Like the thing about square dancing. The nurse said not to engage in sports that were too strenuous.

Now either everyone who comments on this is in menopause or one of the distaff circle jerkees, but when I first got my period, I was in freaking agony from cramps. Climbing a set of stairs seemed like an Olympic event; I sure as hell wasn't thinking about square dancing! (Well, I never thought about square dancing, but that's another post.)

I also thought the mother and father's reaction wasn't overwrought. It was kind of sweet, and not unexpected. Getting her period is a sign their daughter, the baby in the family, is growing up. I can see why her parents had a reaction to it, because it also means they're getting older. Life moves on, yeah, but it's that often you get such an obvious marker for it like a girl starting to get her period.

Honestly, this film is more mature than a lot of the morons who comment on it.
Reviewer: BondoFox - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 15, 2009
Subject: So, Molly's Mom and the School Nurse are Knockin' Stockin's??
Ahhhh, so THIS is the film the boys were all chased out of the room for!
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 2, 2006
Subject: Molly's Dumbed Down
This film was written by a man, Donald Hatfield (who also worked on How Boys Grow), which must account for all the bizarre advice that Molly and her classmates get about menstruation. Were women were so disempowered in the fifties that they needed a man to tell them about menstruation? Unlike How Boys Grow, which starts with scenes of boys having fun at the playground and amusement park, the opening credits for Molly Grows Up are in the form of a plain notebook on a checkered tableclothin other words, the film starts in the kitchen, womens place. We meet Molly as she tells two elderly women neighbors about a wedding where the bride wore the most beautiful white dress Ive ever seen! The film is narrated by Miss Jenson, the school gym teacher. Molly comes home from school one day and tells her mom (whos in the kitchen, of course) that her period has started. Molly and her mom have a heart to heart talk that night about growing up and even tell Mollys dad whose response is What! Already? The boys film takes place in the school locker roomfor boys growing up signals separation (we never see their parents). But in this film, for girls growing up means staying closer to home. We cut to a Mollys hygiene class where Miss Jenson explains the mechanics of menstruation. In the boys film, theyre told about masturbation and sexual intercourse; but the girls are only told about sanitary pads and to wear your prettiest dress and be your most attractive self. The boys are allowed to have a sexual life; the girls are only given a weird list of things to avoid: square dancing, skating and horseback riding. Even though this film is progressive for its time, it still denies girls a sexual life. The films ends with Molly looking on longingly while big sister Jeannie goes out on a date. According to Miss Jenson, growing up for girls means lovely, romantic dresses and wonderful, important friends. All the talk about dresses in this film is meant to lead up to Mollys penultimate dressher wedding dress. There are many wonderful things to look forward to! says Miss Jenson. But what are they? The only possibilities we see for Molly are to be either an unmarried teacher like Miss Jenson or an intelligent woman stuck at home in the kitchen all day like her mother.
Reviewer: Ja30fitz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 24, 2005
What a hilarious film this one is! 'Molly Grows Up' is funny, and the manly nurse (Miss Jensen) is my favorite character- she keeps it all together, but the breaking of the 4th wall she does IS confusing. Molly's mother is funny too because she seems a LITTLE too excited about her daughter menstruating! This film should be downloaded as it is chock full of antiquated lingo that I will not spoil for you (save for the subject line). Oh, and one more thing...NO SQUARE DANCING!
Reviewer: DrKnapp - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 7, 2005
Subject: This family is creepy... PERIOD!
Aside from the expected D- acting and story composition, cinematically, this film confuses the audience wherein the school nurse breaks the 4th wall and looks straight into the camera to address the audience directly -- this is truly odd. The part about square dancing being contraindicated during the menstrual cycle brought a rousing wave of laughter to myself and my friends. This film is totally sexist and implausible. Overall, itÃÂs good for a laugh-and-a-half, but only if you're not needing to learn anything about "that time".
Reviewer: Government_human - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 27, 2004
Subject: I'm glad I wasn't born then
This film is another example of the double standard. My gosh now I understand why my boyfriends grandma thinks so I am so horrible, she watched films like this.
I mean compared to the "Boys grow up" this movie is more negetive. Poor girl doesn't get to discusse her sexual desires, everyone just pretends they aren't there. The boys in their film get to have fun in a little circle jerk.
I find the girl talking about marriege creepy. I know as soon as I started my period, I was planning my wedding. Or maybe Molly is just planning to get married to get that sexual fustration out that everyone ingores.
Reviewer: Government_human - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 27, 2004
Subject: I'm glad I wasn't born then
This film is another example of the double standard. My gosh now I understand why my boyfriends grandma thinks so I am so horrible, she watched films like this.
I mean compared to the "Boys grow up" this movie is more negetive. Poor girl doesn't get to discusse her sexual desires, everyone just pretends they aren't there. The boys in their film get to have fun in a little circle jerk.
I find the girl talking about marriege creepy. I know as soon as I started my period, I was planning my wedding. Or maybe Molly is just planning to get married to get that sexual fustration out that everyone ingores.
Reviewer: AliceTeeple - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 15, 2004
Subject: somewhere...a square dancer is weeping
Refreshingly "scientific," given that prior to watching this, I was expecting a symphony and choir singing something sentimental about becoming a woman, a la those refrigerator commercials. The gym teacher gave me the fear, but that's nothing new. And Dad was pretty cool about his daughter's change, although their reactions were slightly unnerving, like "she's marriageable age now, Ma!"
But then...THEN we heard "no square dancing," and I couldn't bear it anymore. The news was too heart-wrenching. Our little girl HAS grown up.
Reviewer: Rebo Valence - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 28, 2003
Subject: Not as bad as it's reputation
While the "don't square dance" aspects of this film were rather silly, I DID appreciate that the film took a rather progressive view of treating a girls period as something perfectly normal, and not as some wretched burden the woman must bear. When Molly calls hers "the curse", her mother is surprised that anyone still thinks that way. Heck, even Molly's father is told and instead of him getting upset about "women's business," he marvels at how fast his daughter is growing. Throughout the film, the beginning of Molly's menstrual cycle is presented as part of her growing up along with her urges to act more sophisticated. While I doubt any real girl could be THAT giddy when her hormones are raging, placing this change in a positive, open light is encouraging.

Having a parent who started HER cycle around the time this film was made adds an odd window to how SHE had to deal with it. In particular, the odd straps the girls were supposed to wear to secure pads. Thank goodness for wings!
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 11, 2003
Subject: This film has balls!
"Molly grows up" is the type of film that you can't believe was made for it's time. The people at Medical Arts Productions seemed to realize that there was a need for these type of films. (they also did 'As Boys Grow') Having said that, this film IS dated dated dated. I'm no girl, but even I know ridiculous factoids when you hear them. Make sure you dry your hair quickly after showering? No horseback riding? No Volleyball? And most especially, No SQAURE DANCING? Golly Dang It! I loved this film. Bonus point: The substitute teacher looks like my Aunt, who was also a teacher. I think she's a lesbian too. Same goes for the teacher in the film as well. A MUST SEE on this site!
Reviewer: dynayellow - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 15, 2003
Subject: Let's tell Dad!
Mixed in with all the solid medical advice and positive attitudes towards the subject is some utterly surreal advice. DO clean your fingernails and wear your prettiest dress! DO NOT go square dancing! The fade-outs on everyone smiling at Molly's news are very, very creepy.
Reviewer: mjwise - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 2, 2003
Never before has such a line been uttered with such enthusiasm.

This is the companion film to "As Boys Grow," both written and produced by D.M. Hatfield. And it's quite clear, from his point of view, that girls end up with the short end of the stick. This film's seriousness about menstuation makes "As Boys Grow" seem light-hearted and cavalier by comparison. This film is such a downer! The boys literally get the "have fun, go ahead and masturbate!" message where girls get the "don't go square dancing!" message. Not to mention this film in no way addresses male sexuality (yet the boys learn about female sexuality!), nor does it address sexuality in any way that, you know, it may actually be a good thing. A woman's sexuality is presented as something to be endured, not enjoyed. A very dated film. I mean really, was there EVER a time when classrooms had "During Menstruation..." posters?

Also notable:
* Joe Miksak who plays the borderline swinging coach in "As Boys Grow" plays the reticent, quiet, conservative father in this film. Very telling of the contrasting attitudes towards male vs. female sexuality of the two films by Hatfield.
* The production standards are actually fairly high for a film of its type. The performances are corny but reliable, with Molly's mother probably being the best performer of the bunch.
* "Do in moderation: square dancing." I think that sums it up pretty well.
Reviewer: carnabyfudge - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 14, 2003
Subject: Molly is hot
This girl is ripe! I'd like to show her what that thing is for!
They neglected to mention that frequent sex is a good way to regulate your cycle. Use that thing Molly!
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 13, 2002
Subject: Molly Grows Up
Millions of you will probably remember watching this film at a particular moment of your lives. The rest of you probably remember either watching The Story of Menstruation (the other ubiquitous menstruation film) or being sent outside to play dodgeball while the girls had their "special assembly." These films absolved millions of mothers from actually having to talk to their daughters about "the curse." So its kind of ironic that the mother in this film is so open to the subject that when Molly tells her she just had her first period, the mother immediately sets Molly down and asks her to tell her all about it. Even Molly's dad can hear the subject mentioned wihout embarassment, only a little wistfulness that his daughter is growing up so quickly. In general, the family in this film is one of those perfect cinematic families that nevertheless seem so "normal" that we become convinced that ours is the only family that's "weird." In addition, this film features a cool-as-a-cucumber school nurse, the word "menstruation" pronounced "men-stru-a-shun" by everybody, the usual diagram of the uterus and fallopian tubes, and the usual explanation of how babies are made that carefully avoids telling us how the "male cells" got into the uterus. Everybody needs at least one menstruation film in their educational film collectionÃÂÃÂthis one is a classic of the genre.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Mental Hygiene.
Reviewer: drgeoffrey - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 15, 2002
Subject: Swimming with period can cause you to catch cold!
Some dated material, some great "Goll-y" lines and a great chart on the wall make this one a good chuckle.
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